Friday, May 22, 2009

Starwood Sheraton Hotel Survey Sucks

This Starwood Sheraton Hotel Survey Sucks

Customer surveys are a good idea - but good ideas can be messed up by poor implementation. Here is an example of a customer survey that only served to annoy me as the customer of Sheraton Starwood Hotels.

The first rule of surveys is to be clear on your purpose. For example: are you conducting your customer survey to fix problems, discover opportunities, gather performance stats for marketing - or justify a manager's bonus?

The second rule of surveys is to see it from the customer's point of view.

After my stay at a Sheraton Hotel in Montreal I received the following request by email to complete a customer survey.

When you ask your customers to complete a survey - remember that they are doing it for you. So it would help your cause if you were warm, friendly, respectful and offered a reward for their time and perspective.

When I received the survey request from Sheraton Starwood Hotels - I deleted the first email because it seemed cold, demanding and all about them. And they offered me nothing as a reward for my time and opinion.

Then I received the second email as below. It was no warmer nor convincing to me. But this time I clicked and completed the survey - not because they did a better job of inviting me - but because I wanted to discover if it got any better. It did not. In my opinion, the Starwood Sheraton Hotel customer survey sucks.



We recently sent you an e-mail inviting you to participate in an on-line survey about your stay at at Le Centre Sheraton ending on May 5, 2009. If you have not yet completed the survey, I want to let you know it is not too late to participate. We would like to again take this opportunity to personally thank you for your continued patronage. As you may already know, Sheraton Hotels And Resorts is part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts family of brands (Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, S t. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, Aloft and Element). As a Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Preferred member, you are a highly valued guest and we appreciate your loyalty and feedback enormously.

Notice the tone of how this first paragraph starts, "We did something and you haven't completed your part." The thank you gets lost after they chastised me for "not yet completing". And then there are several lines about them - they list their hotel brands. Why? Would that convince me to complete their survey?

We would greatly appreciate it if you could take the time to complete a brief survey regarding your most recent stay. This is important to our company, hotels and our brands that use this information worldwide to continuously improve our guest's experience and, most importantly, how to meet and exceed your expectations in the future. TNS has been retained to conduct this survey on behalf of Starwood.

This paragraph is all about them. Why would I care? They still have placed no value on my time. They simply demand it.

At your convenience, please take some time to complete the survey. To complete the survey online, simply click on this link:xxxx or copy and paste the link into the address line of your browser. If you have any difficulty accessing the survey, please send an email message to

The survey itself will take only about 10 minutes of your time. If you are being prompted for a validation code after clicking on the link, please copy and paste the following into the field:

Ten minutes of my time - that's all they want. Don't they realize that if I can afford to stay at a Sheraton or Starwood Hotel that I place a high value on my time?

By providing this information you authorize Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., and its affiliated and subsidiary companies, (the "Starwood Group"): to collect, process and use the data provided for any lawful, Starwood Group business related purpose; to store the data at and transmit the data to various location(s), either directly or through its third party vendor(s), as the Starwood Group deems appropriate, throughout the world, whether within your country of residence, the United States, or elsewhere. To learn about our data collection and usage practices, please see our Privacy Statement:

The lawyers got to have their say to earn their pay.

We appreciate your business and thank you for staying at a Starwood hotel. We hope that you will visit other Starwood hotels and resorts in the near future.

About time that they thanked me. Where's my prize? If they really appreciated me and my business they could demonstrate that with a gift.

Denise Coll
North America Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

So how do I get my 10 minutes of the president's time? She implied that ten minutes of my time was worth nothing.

It;s been at least a week since I "completed" the Starwood Hotel Survey and I have not received a thank you, acknowledgement or offer of a reward.

The service at the Sheraton was pretty good with a couple exceptions and the Starwood customer service survey sucks.


George Torok


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Power Marketing Tip 21: Raving Testiomonials

Power Marekting Tip 21:

Get more raving testimoninals

The last Power Marketing Tip explained how to leverage your client testimonials. This tip will show you how to get more raving testimonials.

How do you get a raging stream of raving testimonials?

Ask and ask often.

If you want - you gotta ask. When should you ask? You can ask while you are closing the deal. Say, "Thank you for the order. You are going to be very happy with our service. I have a small but important favor to ask. When the job is done and assuming that you are satisfied with our service, would you write a glowing testimonial for us?"

Smile when you say this. Use the word "glowing" or "raving" because your client might laugh when they hear it and they will remember your request along with their agreement later.

Another time to ask is whenever your client complements you. This could be before during or after the delivery of your service. Thank them for their feedback and say, "It would help us if more people could hear your comments. Would you put that in writing for me?"

You can remind them when the job is done by saying or writing a note, "We enjoyed working with you. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to show our stuff. I look forward to receiving that raving testimonial from you."

Help them write the letter.

Most people need some help to write a good letter. How can you help them help you? Offer to draft a letter for them. Say, "I know it takes time and effort to write a glowing testimonial. Would it be okay for me to draft a letter for you? You can change anything you want or use as is." Most people will accept your offer because they want to please you and they will not sign anything that they don' t like.

Naturally, we're assuming that you deliver outstanding service.

Enjoy that raging stream of glowing testimonials.

George Torok
Power Marketing

PS: Tell me how this marketing tip helps you.
PPS: Forward this tip to your associates.


"You presented marketing insights, principles and ideas to a group of CEO's from anorganization that I belong to. I was so impressed by your presentation thatI signed up to see you again and brought my entire sales and management teamwith me."
William N.Hotrum, President
HMT SalesTax Consultants Inc.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Prosper in this Recesion - don't miss out

Prosper in this Recession

Don't miss out on this opportunity to recharge yourself and your business.

Get more of the three things that your business needs in these troubled times - focused motivation, effective marketing and sharper selling skills.

Attend the Stimulate Your Business Summit on May 20 in Burlington, Ontario.
That's next Wednesday. It's coming up fast.

You have nothing to lose by registering because your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed!

Three recession busting experts will present their best tips on beating this recession.

Featuring three topic experts and bestselling authors:

Charles Marcus on motivation

George Torok on marketiing

Kelley Robertson on selling

(and Ringo on drums)

Register at

Wed May 20
Burlington Holiday Inn

$295 plus GST.

Check it out

See you there.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Free CRM Webinar this Friday

Free CRM Webinar this Friday May 15

If it's time to get up to speed on CRM then take advantage of this opportunity to attend this free non-technical webinar this week. It's offered by my friend Rick McCutcheon. He is an expert on CRM - that's all he does - CRM. He consults, trains and implements CRM for sales teams. From strategy to tactics Rick knows CRM - Customer Relationship Management.

Check out the video to get a flavor for his style and content. The video is a good free introduction to CRM.

Just a reminder that my next CRM Planning Webinar is taking place this Friday May 15th at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Planning for CRM Success
This is a non-technical CRM Planning Workshop focused on User Adoption Success. It is based on the Full Contact Selling Methodology for integrating sales processes, people skills and CRM technology.For complete session details and to register for this free session please go to .


Rick McCutcheon


P.S. You can view my new Full Contact Selling Video at

George Torok

Power Marketing


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Marketing in Turbulent Times

Marketing in Turbulent Times

As published in the April 2009 edition of Enterprise Magazine

May you live in interesting times.

Is that ancient expression a curse or a blessing? I think it depends on what you define to be "interesting" and more importantly how you adapt to it. If you define interesting to mean unpredictable, challenging and threatening - then clearly we are living in interesting times.

Business these days is more like shooting the rapids in a rubber raft than canoeing in a duck pond. It's too easy to be mesmerized by the danger of capsizing. If you focus on the rocks - that's where you will go. The secret is to look for and steer to the high water and paddle like a fiend.

Survival is not the goal If you set your sights on surviving you could slip and sink. If you set your target as thriving then you might flourish. How do you thrive in these turbulent waters?

Marketing is the result of all the messages that you and your staff send. In fact your staff sends more powerful marketing messages than all the advertising you ever do. Therefore marketing becomes the end result of almost every business decision you make.

Think long term Don't make knee-jerk decisions especially about business strategy. Gather as much relevant information as you can. Seek the advice of people you respect. Be clear on your purpose. Examine both the short term and long term effects of major decisions. Once you decide, act quickly and confidently.

Your staff will be looking to you for leadership and hope. Be open to course corrections when and as needed while clearly focused on the objectives and purpose.

Read the rest of this article

George Torok

Marketing Speaker

Recession Busting Experts


Friday, May 08, 2009

Hanging Tough

Hanging Tough
by James Surowiecki April 20, 2009

In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies—Kellogg and Post—dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market: ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn’t see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the twenties. So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty per cent and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.

You’d think that everyone would want to emulate Kellogg’s success, but, when hard times hit, most companies end up behaving more like Post. They hunker down, cut spending, and wait for good times to return. They make fewer acquisitions, even though prices are cheaper. They cut advertising budgets. And often they invest less in research and development. They do all this to preserve what they have. But there’s a trade-off: numerous studies have shown that companies that keep spending on acquisition, advertising, and R. & D. during recessions do significantly better than those which make big cuts. In 1927, the economist Roland Vaile found that firms that kept ad spending stable or increased it during the recession of 1921-22 saw their sales hold up significantly better than those which didn’t. A study of advertising during the 1981-82 recession found that sales at firms that increased advertising or held steady grew precipitously in the next three years, compared with only slight increases at firms that had slashed their budgets. And a McKinsey study of the 1990-91 recession found that companies that remained market leaders or became serious challengers during the downturn had increased their acquisition, R. & D., and ad budgets, while companies at the bottom of the pile had reduced them.

One way to read these studies is simply that recessions make the strong stronger and the weak weaker, since the strong can afford to keep investing while the weak have to devote all their energies to staying afloat. But although deep pockets help in a downturn, recessions nonetheless create more opportunity for challengers, not less. When everyone is advertising, for instance, it’s hard to separate yourself from the pack; when ads are scarcer, the returns on investment seem to rise. That may be why during the 1990-91 recession, according to a Bain & Company study, twice as many companies leaped from the bottom of their industries to the top as did so in the years before and after.

Chrysler’s fortunes in the Great Depression are a classic instance of this. Chrysler had been the third player in the U.S. auto industry, behind G.M. and Ford. But early in the downturn it gave a big push to a new brand—Plymouth—targeted at the low end of the market, and by 1933 it had surpassed Ford to become North America’s second-biggest automaker. On a smaller scale, Hyundai has made huge gains in market share this year, thanks to a hefty advertising budget and a guarantee to take back cars from owners who have lost their jobs. Those gains may turn out to be temporary, but in fact the benefits from recession investment are often surprisingly long-lived, with companies maintaining their gains in market share and sales well into economic recovery.

· from the issue
· cartoon bank
· e-mail this
Why, then, are companies so quick to cut back when trouble hits? The answer has something to do with a famous distinction that the economist Frank Knight made between risk and uncertainty. Risk describes a situation where you have a sense of the range and likelihood of possible outcomes. Uncertainty describes a situation where it’s not even clear what might happen, let alone how likely the possible outcomes are. Uncertainty is always a part of business, but in a recession it dominates everything else: no one’s sure how long the downturn will last, how shoppers will react, whether we’ll go back to the way things were before or see permanent changes in consumer behavior. So it’s natural to focus on what you can control: minimizing losses and improving short-term results. And cutting spending is a good way of doing this; a major study, by the Strategic Planning Institute, of corporate behavior during the past thirty years found that reducing ad spending during recessions did improve companies’ return on capital. It also meant, though, that they grew less quickly in the years following recessions than more free-spending competitors did. But for many companies recessions are a time when short-term considerations trump long-term potential.

This is not irrational. It’s true that the uncertainty of recessions creates an opportunity for serious profits, and the historical record is full of companies that made successful gambles in hard times: Kraft introduced Miracle Whip in 1933 and saw it become America’s best-selling dressing in six months; Texas Instruments brought out the transistor radio in the 1954 recession; Apple launched the iPod in 2001. Then again, the record is also full of forgotten companies that gambled and failed. The academics Peter Dickson and Joseph Giglierano have argued that companies have to worry about two kinds of failure: “sinking the boat” (wrecking the company by making a bad bet) or “missing the boat” (letting a great opportunity pass). Today, most companies are far more worried about sinking the boat than about missing it. That’s why the opportunity to do what Kellogg did exists. That’s also why it’s so nerve-racking to try it. ♦


George Torok
Marketing Expert


Thursday, May 07, 2009

I'm in marketing - I'm not trying to sell you anything

"I'm in marketing - I'm not trying to sell you anything."

That's what he said. The conference presenter from a software company associated with the richest man in the world. What a stupid thing to say. Either he was purposely telling a lie or just terribly stupid.

Everyone is selling something and marketing folks often fool themselves into thinking that they are not selling anything.

What a stupid thought. Marketing only has one purpose - that is to help sell something.

And this marketing representative from Microsoft had the stupidity to claim that he was not selling anything. He was in marketing and according to him marketing had some nobler purpose.
He seemed to suggest that selling something was beneath marketing.

I won't tell you his name unless you are Bill Gates. Please don't punish this marketing fool - just educate him.

George Torok
Marketing Speaker
Marketing Expert


3 Reasons That Numbers Sell

Have you ever noticed that subject lines with a number in them are more likely to be read?

Comunication Capsules
By Lynda Goldman

For example, "10 Ways to Attract Customers Using Case Studies" captures your attention much more than "Attracting Customers Using Case Studies."

Why? Here are 3 reasons that numbers sell.
3 Reasons that Numbers Sell

1. Numbers arouse curiosity. The person sees the number, (in this case, the 10 ways to use case studies) and immediately starts to compile her own list of ways to use case studies. Then she wants to compare her list to yours, and see if she missed anything. If she can't come up with 10 ways, she's curious to know what they are.

2. Numbers provide a focus for the reader, and a specific promise. The writer has to make sure to fulfill the promise, and deliver the 10 ways.

3. Our brains take in information in groupings more readily. When we see the number 3 or 10, it's very easy for that message to come into our brain and we stay more receptive to it.Bonus tip (and the reason I presented 3 tips instead of 4): Odd numbers seem to work better than even numbers, maybe because they appear to be more scientific and legitimate. That's why Listerine kills 99% of germs instead of 100%.

However, the number 10 is always a winner! (So now, if you'd like 10 Ways to Attract Customers Using Case Studies, just click on the link on the top, to the right.)

Warmest wishes,

Register for Lynda Goldman's Communication Capsules


Marketing Sherpa Case Study: Homepage Redesign

Homepage Redesign Puts Target Sectors Front and Center: 5 Steps to 100% Lift in Key Metrics


The most relevant marketing content speaks directly to your prospects’ needs. But does your website give target industries an instant connection to the content that matters to them? See how an IT consulting firm redesigned its homepage to give special attention to their top target industries. They used big buttons to lure clicks from key prospects, and drove traffic with a vertical-focused direct mail campaign. As a result, they’ve seen a huge jump in Web metrics, such as a 100%+ increases in time on site and pageviews per visit, and are arranging sales meetings at a faster rate.


Zaphyr Technologies provides IT consulting and services for the small-medium business sector. But that horizontal focus made it difficult for Shawn Butt, CEO, and his team to create marketing campaigns that resonated with specific types of businesses. “When you say ‘We’re a one-stop shop that does it all,’ it doesn’t connect with people in a certain vertical or industry,” says Butt. “We realized we had to start to define which verticals we are interested in, and which we have expertise in.”The team embarked on a process to identify its top industry targets, and then refine their marketing strategy to immediately connect with the needs of prospects in those industries.

Read the rest of this case study here.
Acess is open until May 14, 2009.



The vertical focus of the team’s new website has caught the attention of their target audiences.After the redesign:o Unique visitors increased 125%o Average time on site increased 106%o Average page views per visit increased 153%o Average monthly email newsletter signups increased 117%